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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Up the Amazon without a paddle

Up the Amazon without a Paddle!

November 15, 2016

It’s been nearly a year since I’ve posted on to the blog – the main reason is that it’s primarily a travel blog and I haven’t gone anywhere since our trip to Yelapa last fall. 

Three months seemed like a long time on the last excursion and the successive wars with the army ants wore Michele and me down.  She has no appetite to return and I figure after nine straight years visiting Yelapa perhaps a change might be in order.

Since the main reason for bypassing Yelapa this year was the encounters with the army ants, scorpions, sea crocodiles and boas, I have decided to try a somewhat calmer place:   The Amazon River.

Our  Yelapa neighbour 
This is a trip that I am supposed to take with my buddy Larry who has finally run out of excuses not to go on another adventure with me.  However, at the last moment, he decided he would rather have his gall bladder removed. Over breakfast with a few of my buddies I mention there is an opening on for the position  of “roommate” on my upcoming  Amazon trip and am startled how quickly the conversation turns to other things – “Say how about those Canucks?  I hear they lost another five games last week!”  So I am shocked when my friend Tom says, “Hey, if you don’t mind, I think I’d like to go.” 

I tell Tom the fantastic price I found for the trip and airfare (under $3000.00 for everything) wouldn’t be around long.  If he wants to go he’ll have to book it immediately.  I figure he’ll go home, think twice about it and that will be the end of it; so I am surprised when he calls later that day and says ,“I have good news and bad news.”
“What’s the good news,” I ask.
“I’m definitely coming,” he replies.
“…and the bad news?”
“I can’t be your roommate.  Fen (his partner) wants to come and for some strange reason insists I room with her.”

That is mixed news for me.  Having a known roommate is better than having an unknown one.  I’d had bad news with several of the others: the last one insisted on sleeping with the lights on and took pictures of everything he did during the trip – including candid shots of his bowel movements.”

Tom Gliding
Tom also has his problems.  He suffers from insomnia and tends to wander a lot during the night – which isn’t a good idea on a river boat.  Did I mention Tom can’t swim?  Travelling with Tom can be fun:  He’s known throughout the world for his high pitched girl-like scream that can be heard for miles – like the time when we were taking Glider lessons and his instructor stalled the glider and put it into a tailspin.  People from Hope BC to Penticton claim to have heard him – or there was the time when we were kayaking in Haida Gwaii when a whale breached about three feet in front of him.  Sarah Palin claims to have heard him in Alaska.

Tom and Fen booked the trip before they called me so he is somewhat shocked when I tell him he should visit the travel clinic.
“What for?” he asks.
“Shots,” I reply.
“For what?”
“For everything:  Typhoid, Hepatitis A and B, Polio, Yellow Fever to name a few.  And you’ll need a prescription for malaria pills and the oral Cholera vaccine”
After returning from the travel clinic with a swollen arm, Tom confides that if he knew that he would have needed so many shots he would have booked the trip.
“You know,” he opines, “Maybe Larry had the right idea.  Compared to potentially getting any or all of those diseases getting your gall bladder out might be a walk in the park.”
What really terrifies Tom is when the travel clinic doctor tells him there is a chance of getting Dengue Fever. 
“Well just give me the shot for that.  You’ve given me a shot for everything else.  What’s one more poke in the arm?”
“Sorry,” she tells him as she sticks another round band aid on his arm, “There is no vaccine for that. Too bad, ‘cause it’s really nasty.”
Tom went home and read over the contracts for the trip and flights and is disappointed he couldn’t find a way out.
“Listen, Tom,”  I tell him.  That cruise runs 52 weeks of the year, when you work out the math, it’s really unlikely you’ll ever get Dengue Fever. I only know one guy who got it  and he survived - barely”  Something worse is more likely to get you: things that there are no vaccines for.”
“Like what?”
The dreaded Candiru
“Well to start with you got your snakes, electric eels, Red- Bellied Piranhas, sharks…..”
 At this point Tom has stuck his fingers in his ears and is singing “La la la la” as loud as he can , so I don’t have the heart to tell him about the Candiru – a small spiny fish famous for launching themselves up the urethra of anyone foolish enough to pee in the river. If you want to have nightmares, check out this list of the 10 most terrifyingcreatures of the Amazon River -  but don’t send it to Tom.  

Image result for amazon river boat sank
Recent river boat sinking
I also didn’t mention to him a similar boat to ours blew up and sank last July - or a recent string of pirate attacks.  But hey, the good news is they seem to only attack “luxury” cruises, so I guess we don’t have to worry and things have been relatively calm since July. Besides, Tom doesn’t have to worry about pirates, I have had experience with pirates on one of my previous trips to Thailand where the cook and I fended off pirates with a large cast iron frying pan.

Actually the trip sounds like fun, and completely safe (I think).   I told Tom he has more chance of getting Dengue fever than the boat blowing up under him or being attacked by pirates in the middle of the night.

 We will arrive in Lima this Saturday and take a plane the next day to Iquitos in the jungle to  get on board our GAdventures River Boat where we spend the next week cruising up and down the upper reaches of the Amazon River. Then it’s back to Lima for a few days of R&R and back home.  Total time gone just 14 days – although to Tom it might seem like a lifetime.  

Hopefully there’s some Wi-Fi along the way so I can keep you informed of our adventures or if you have to start a crowdfunding to raise our ransom.

If you want to learn more about the cruise here’s the link to our itinerary.

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